Gordon retains the points lead, confidence that wins will follow

Jeff Gordon led a race-high 173 laps in his No. 24 Chevrolet on Saturday before settling for his second runner-up finish in three races.

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In a year when winning is supposed to be everything and good points days nothing, Jeff Gordon is doing all right for himself, despite being winless at the one-quarter mark of the 2014 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season.

Gordon, the four-time series champion, finished second to Joey Logano in Saturday night’s action-packed Toyota Owners 400 at Richmond International Raceway. The runner-up finish, Gordon’s second in three races, keeps him atop the Sprint Cup points standings for the third race in a row. He now leads Matt Kenseth by five points and Carl Edwards by 28.

In nine races this season, Gordon has four top-five and seven top-10 finishes, with a worst of 13th at Auto Club Speedway. That consistency –€“ and more importantly, the consistent speed in his No. 24 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet — has Gordon feeling bullish about his season so far.

"It was a great night," Gordon said. "We were having fun. Gosh, what great race cars we’re bringing to the racetrack, great pit stops all night tonight. It’s frustrating to not win, but also each time we run this good, it builds more confidence and momentum that we’re going to get that win soon."

It’s frustrating to not win, but also each time we run this good, it builds more confidence and momentum that we’re going to get that win soon.

Jeff Gordon

Saturday night at Richmond, Gordon led six times for a race-high 173 laps. Gordon’s car was far and away the best on long runs, but three cautions in the final 32 laps hurt his chances of winning.

Gordon was third when the track went green for the final time on Lap 392 of the 400-lap race. And for a moment, when leader Matt Kenseth and second-place Brad Keselowski started dicing in the high groove, it looked like Gordon might get that breakthrough first victory of the season. But Logano came from behind and bested everyone.

"There at the end actually I got right behind Matt on that last restart and I knew I was better than him, it’s just a matter of trying to get him up off the bottom and get a run on him," Gordon said. "That was tough. And then the 2 (Keselowski) was just right there, and his car was just so good on the short runs.

"When he (Keselowski) got to the outside of me, I thought we were done, but then Matt started driving up the racetrack to block him and gave the inside to me, so now here I come back, and then Matt sort of turned down and I clipped him and didn’t get a good run off of (Turn) 2, and then the 22 (Logano) came. At that point it was really just trying to battle with those guys to get the best finish that we could, and the 22 was in a great position while we were all sitting there sliding around battling it out."

Battle of Richmond: Joey Logano survives wild finish to claim victory

And so Gordon took second place and wasn’t too terribly unhappy about it.

"To come home second is still a great finish," Gordon said. "Would have liked to have seen a longer run because we were really, really good after about 20 laps. That’s when our car really seemed to come on."

So now it’s on to Talladega Superspeedway, one of Gordon’s best tracks. And as good as he’s run at most of the tracks this season, it would not be surprising to see him in the win column very soon.

"As good as we’re running, I definitely feel like we can win races just about anywhere that we go, and if we continue to perform like this, we are going to win," Gordon said. "That’s how you win. I mean, yeah, there’s sometimes when you just pick the right pit strategy. There’s other times you get a good restart, and then there’s times when you just go and outrun them. I’ll take outrunning them more times than any because I think that’s when the multiple wins are going to come."